NFL Players React to Trump Tweets About Game Going Soft
Current, former players slam president for his comments on Twitter.
Lost in the shuffle of President Trump’s inflammatory comments about the National Football League’s player protests—you know, when he referred to them as “sons of bitches” and called for their jobs—was his criticism of how soft the game had become. “Today, if you hit too hard: 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! … They’re ruining the game! That’s what they want to do. They want to hit! It is hurting the game,” tweeted the president.
That didn’t go over so well with a lot of NFL veterans. Bleacher Report contacted seven former and current players to get their reaction to the president’s remarks. RealClearLife has teased out some of the best quotes below.
New York Giants – Harry Carson – The Hall of Fame inside linebacker, who played for the team from 1976-88, has experienced everything from depression to blurred vision and headaches. He told Bleacher Report: “There are people who will say, ‘I miss the way they used to play the game, with guys blasting each other and playing full tilt.’ When you miss that, it tells me that you want the players to go out and be gladiators, and you want them to basically fight to the death. You want somebody to pay a price. Even knowing as we do today that the risks of brain injury are there.”
New Orleans Saints – Coby Fleener – The current tight end for the Saints, Fleener is in his sixth season with the team. He said: “[Trump] would struggle to find many players who agree with him. There are probably some who are ill-informed or unaware of the consequences, and some that pretend not to think about it or care. But I think the majority of players would probably be lying to themselves if they said they wouldn’t be scared or sad about the diagnosis if they would be afflicted with something like [CTE], or wouldn’t change their style of play in any case. …His comments are a pretty selfish and shortsighted view of things.”
Minnesota Vikings – Robert Smith – The running back retired at the prime of his career, saying “I’d rather walk away early than limp away late,” at the time. He told BR: “What [Trump] said, I mean it’s almost so absurd it doesn’t deserve a response. He’s a clown act. …Anybody who really knew what it was like to play the game and knew what the costs were, and not just the costs that some people know about, would never say something like that.” That said, he does say, “To be fair, though, I don’t know how many defensive players would honestly disagree with him. A lot of defensive players, especially linemen, think the quarterbacks are protected too much and that the rules don’t allow them to play football.”
Buffalo Bills – Richie Incognito – The current Bills guard got in hot water over bullying, but has made a comeback. Incognito was a vocal Trump supporter. This is what he had to say: “Really, the only people who can have the conversation about how violent the game is are the men who stepped in between those white lines and who laid it on the line day in and day out,” he says. “For me as a guard, it’s not a lot less contact these days, not a lot less at all. It’s violent in the trenches.”
Jacksonville Jaguars – Tony Boselli – The retired left offensive tackle was drafted second overall in the 1995 draft. He retired in 2003, after a surgically repaired shoulder never fully healed. “I disagree with him, even though it doesn’t mean I agree with every rule change,” Boselli says. “But it’s still football. It’s still physical and it’s still tough and it’s still a controlled violence on the field. They’re just trying to protect guys.”
Various Teams – Scott Fujita – A linebacker, Fujita won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009. “It’s one thing to call a bunch of players a bunch of SOBs because they want to kneel during the national anthem and that fires everybody up,” Fujita said of Trump’s comments. “It’s another thing to talk about the wussification of pro football, and that gets his fans all fired up and separates them from the players. Even though it’s all based on these misinformed, perhaps nostalgic ideas about what the game either was or perhaps still should be.”
Washington Redskins – LaVar Arrington – The former second overall pick out of Penn State retired in 2007. “I think it’s an uneducated statement to say they’re ruining the game with player safety,” said Arrington. “Someone saying that probably would not be able to prove their statement in logical evidence.”
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